Sci on the Fly

Farmer’s friend or Frankenfood? GE crops reviewed, once again

In the United States, knowingly or not, we all consume genetically engineered (GE) foods. Scientists and social activists have long clashed on whether these foods are safe for human consumption and the environment, and whether we even know enough about them to make this call. Last week, the National Academy of Sciences* released a consensus study on Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects to provide the latest evidence-based guidance on this contentious topic.

The Preventative and Punitive Sides of Research Integrity

Many universities and federal agencies have research integrity policies that focus on misconduct and improper behaviors, whereas few provide principles of research integrity explaining model behaviors to which researchers can aspire and why such behaviors are important to the research process. By focusing on the negative aspects, research integrity becomes a punitive action associated with compliance and policing. Putting a positive spin on research integrity is an opportunity for providing professional development to researchers.

Science and Technology Innovation: A Star Wars Retrospective

It’s a moment that a whole generation of kids have never forgotten. A simple phrase on a black screen, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….,” followed by a crash of cymbals and trumpets sounding the main title theme of Star Wars as the opening text streamed into the distance. And then we were swept into a different galaxy, one filled with technologies, characters, and worlds that captured the imagination and that inspired many of us to study math, science, and engineering and work towards making an impact on the world we live in.

World Water Day: Powerful Water, Thirsty Energy

It’s World Water Day. Designated in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, March 22 now represents a day to celebrate water. A day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water-related problems. And a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.

To me, references to global water stress typically only conjured up platitudes such as “Every Drop Counts” and “Conserve Water, Save the Planet.” That's how it was until I started working at the Department of Energy.

It's Just Rocket Science

On October 28, an Antares rocket destined for the International Space Station malfunctioned on takeoff at Wallops Island, Virginia and was destroyed. Three days later and 2,000 miles away, Virgin Galactic’s manned SpaceShipTwo disintegrated during a test flight, killing one pilot and injuring the other. 

The Risky Business of Using Criminalized Drugs as Therapies

As Brian Bingham aptly pointed out in his blog post, everyone must take action to reduce stigma – both that of using “criminalized drugs,” and that of having disorders like alcoholism, depression and anxiety.  Since the turn of the 20th century, the public, the American government, and several other countries have been cultivating a culture of:

A.    Drugs are bad.
B.    People who take drugs are bad.
C.    There are no exceptions to points A and B.

Just Blog! Words from a Repeat Offender

At least once a month, AAAS Policy Fellows get an email from a Sci on the Fly editor with a suggestion for a blog post – it usually starts with, “Who can speak to this topic….”? I like to believe that most people a) read the email and then b) think, “wow, that would be a good topic for a blog” then c) if they are someone who can speak to the topic they write and if not, they are reminded of another topic about which they can write.

“Added Sugar”on Food Labels Gets Pushback from the Usual Suspects

Previously, I told you about the new FDA proposal to change current nutrition labels on food packaging. There were, in my opinion, some very practical and useful suggestions such as requiring a separate line for “added sugars.” This has drawn criticism from, you guessed it, the food industry. It seems like any time an industry risks a hit to their bottom line due to new regulation, they find something to howl about. This is precisely what they did at a public meeting on June 26th.

Could Science Find a Way to Negate the Need for Sleep?

When I was a child, upon waking in the middle of the night I would force myself to cry so that my mom would hear me and sit with me. I hated feeling as if I was the only person in the world awake. Of course I wasn’t – 65% of American report “frequent” sleep problems such as difficulty falling asleep or waking during the night. A flurry of research has shown that poor sleep can have negative effects on everything from learning, to cardiovascular disease, to obesity.


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